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Ari Engel Wins Heartland Poker Tour River City Casino & Hotel for $142,125

Ari Engel

The Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) visited the River City Casino & Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri this past weekend. The $1,650 Main Event attracted 420 entries that generated a prize pool of $604,800, and after three long days of play, established 30-year-old pro Ari Engel emerged victorious to capture the $142,125 first-place prize — his largest live career score — and a $3,000 package into the season-ending HPT Championship.

The tournament attracted a bevy of notables including four-time HPT champ Greg Raymer, Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler, Will “The Thrill” Failla, Dennis Phillips, Stan Jablonski, and Craig Casino. Unfortunately, none of those players were able to make the final table.

Final Table Results

1stAri EngelLas Vegas, Nevada$142,125*
2ndPaul FehligSt. Louis, Missouri$87,696
3rdJose Ivan MontesBronx, New York$57,456
4thJacob BazeleyCincinnati, Ohio$39,917
5thJoseph SanfilippoSt. Louis, Missouri$29.635
6thPeter BrooksSt. Louis, Missouri$22,982
7thKeith BrodieColumbia, Missouri$19,898
8thAndy KazenChesterfield, Missouri$16,330
9thKyle CaslinSt. Louis, Missouri$13,306

*Prize includes $3,000 HPT Championship package

According to the HPT live blog, the first elimination of the day came on Hand #12 of the final table in Level 25 (15,000/30,000/4,000). It happened when 29-year-old local player Kyle Caslin, who began the final table as the short stack, shoved all in for 319,000 from the hijack and Paul Fehlig moved all in over the top to isolate his opponent.

Fehlig: {a-Hearts}{q-Diamonds}
Caslin: {j-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}

Caslin was behind, but he was drawing to two live cards. According to the PokerNews Odds Calculator, Fehlig was a 62.24% favorite but Caslin would survive 37.38% of the time. The {a-Spades}{q-Clubs}{7-Clubs} flop was about as bad as could be for Caslin as Fehlig flopped two pair and became an overwhelming 96.16% favorite. Caslin needed to catch running cards to stay alive, but the {5-Spades} turn officially left him drawing dead. The meaningless {A-Clubs} was run out on the river for good measure, and then Caslin took his leave in ninth place for $13,306.

Ari Engel Wins Heartland Poker Tour River City Casino & Hotel for 2,125 101
Jacob Bazeley

After Andy Kazen and Keith Brodie were eliminated in eighth and seventh place, respectively, area business owner Peter Brooks followed them out the door in sixth place for $22,982. Another local player, Joseph Sanfilippo, exited in fifth place for $29,635 — not too shabby for the stay-at-home dad who qualified for the tournament for just $200. All told, local grinders kept much of the $600,000 prize pool in St Louis.

Another recognizable player at Monday’s final table was Jacob Bazeley of Cincinnati. His poker résumé includes over $1.1 million in career earnings, two wins, 21 final tables and 48 cashes. HPT viewers will know him best from his heads-up match with Raymer at HPT’s Championship Open last year, which resulted in Raymer’s historic fourth-straight win on the HPT.

On Hand #87, Jose Ivan Montes opened for 130,000 under the gun and then called when Bazeley moved all in for 880,000 from the small blind.

Montes: {k-Clubs}{9-Clubs}
Bazeley: {a-Hearts}{q-Hearts}

Bazeley got it in good, but the {k-Hearts}{j-Clubs}{6-Clubs} flop was gin for Montes as he flopped a pair with a flush draw. Bazeley picked up a gutshot straight draw, but he would come up empty handed as the {7-Spades} blanked on the turn followed by the {8-Hearts} on the river. Bazeley took home $39,917 for his fourth-place finish.

Three-handed play last for quite a while, but eventually Montes was sent to the rail courtesy of Engel. It happened on Hand #133 in Level 29 (40,000/80,000/10,000) when Engel opened for 175,000 from the small blind with the {a-Hearts}{7-Spades} and then called when Montes moved all in from the big with the {2-Spades}{2-Hearts}. It was a classic flip, but not after the {10-Clubs}{7-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds} flop paired Engel’s seven. Montes was in dire straits and in need of a deuce, but it wasn’t in the cards as the {K-Diamonds} and {A-Spades} appeared on the turn and river, respectively. Montes, who traveled all the way from Bronx, New York and qualified via a $60 satellite entry, exited in third place for $57,456 and left Engel to battle Fehlig in heads-up play.

It’d be a short eight-hand affair that came to an end in Level 30 (50,000/100,000/10,000) on Hand #141 when Fehlig raised to 200,000 and then called off when Engel three-bet.

Engel: {7-Diamonds}{7-Spades}
Fehlig: {a-Spades}{8-Diamonds}

It was another flip, and again the proverbial coin would come down in Engel’s favor after the board ran out {k-Spades}{7-Clubs}{5-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds}. Engel’s set of sevens sent Fehlig home in second place for $87,696.

Congratulations to Ari Engel on winning the HPT River City Casino & Hotel.

The HPT’s next event will take place on Monday at the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower in Las Vegas. The HPT has also announced the first four stops on their 2014 schedule, which you can view by clicking here.

*Photos courtesy of Heartland Poker Tour.

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